Natl Film Title Weekend Gross % B.O. Theatrs Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Change $/Thtr Days --- --------------------------- ----------- ------ ------- ---- 16 Millions 600,918 -10% 340 52 LDS major characters: 4,615,070 $1,767 3 LDS missionaries 17 The Upside of Anger 600,022 -40% 816 52 Keri Russell (actress) 17,717,325 $735 24 Constantine 189,138 +138% 336 73 Allen Hall (SFX coordinator) 74,701,091 $563 51 Bugs! 39,077 +6% 20 780 stars Papilio, 15,302,911 $1,953 a Great Mormon butterfly 76 Galapagos 5,239 -6% 2 2012 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 14,788,360 $2,619 81 The Work and the Glory 4,162 -69% 9 159 Russ Holt (writer/director) 3,339,055 $462 Gerald N. Lund (author) Scott Swofford (producer) T.C. Christensen (cinematographer) Gordon Lonsdale (cinematographer) Sam Cardon (composer) Stephen L. Johnson (editor) Larry H. Miller (exec. producer) Jeff T. Miller (line producer) Supporting actors: Brighton Hertford, Sarah Darling, Ryan Wood John R. Uibel (production designer) Cathren Warner (costume designer) Edwin Matsu (makeup artist) Stephanie Scott (makeup artist) Laurie Vukich (assistant hair stylist) Heather Toone (2nd assistant director) LDS main characters 88 Saints and Soldiers 3,468 +101% 5 269 Ryan Little 1,276,961 $694 (director/producer/cinematographer) Adam Abel (producer) Brian Brough (assoc. producer/produc. manager) Wynn Hougaard (editor) J Bateman (composer) Matt Whitaker (screenwriter) Jennifer Buster (casting) Actors: Corbin Allred, Larry Bagby III, Kirby Heyborne, Lincoln Hoppe, Curt Dousett, Ben Gourley, Ethan Vincent, etc. LDS main character: Deacon 98 Sons of Provo 2,389 +254% 5 87 Will Swenson 111,835 $478 (writer/director/producer/ lead actor/songwriter) Peter D. Brown (writer/producer/songwriter) John Lyde, Stephen Rose (cinematographers/editors) John Shircliff (prod. designer) Anne Rose (costume designer) KC Blake (sound designer) Tyler Keegan (unit prod. manager/1st A.D.) Scott Hust (2nd A.D.) Robert Swenson (2nd 2nd A.D.) Spencer Barnes, Anna K. Findlay (make-up artists) Actors: Will Swenson, Kirby Heyborne, Danny Tarasevich, Jennifer Erekson, Peter D. Brown, Maureen Eastwood, Michael Birkeland, Alison Akin Clark, Jeremy Elliott, etc. LDS main characters 100 Down and Derby 2,234 -81% 5 17 Eric Hendershot 73,812 $446 (writer/director/exec. producer) Steele Hendershot (producer) Dickilyn Johnson (producer) John Stone (exec. producer) T.C. Christensen (cinematographer) Gordon Lonsdale (cinematographer) Actors: Adam Hicks, Carmen Rasmusen, Scott Christopher 101 The Young Black Stallion 2,219 +42% 2 494 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 6,733,237 $1,110
"The Work and the Glory" has been ranked as high as #24 on the box office charts nationally and as of last weekend had grossed over $3.3 million in theaters. This current box office total already places it #2 among all LDS Cinema films, with only "The Other Side of Heaven" having grossed more during its theatrical runs than "The Work and the Glory". While these are amazing numbers, "The Work and the Glory" also has the highest production budget of any LDS Cinema film to date, costing a reported $7.5 million to make. Recently it was announced that two sequels to the film have gone into production at the same time, both of which are to be directed by award-winning LDS director/producer and co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival Sterling Van Wagenen. Shooting is currently going on in Tennessee, at one of the sites where much of the first film was shot.
This first installment is directed by Russ Holt ("How Rare a Possession", "Lamb of God", etc.) and produced by Scott Swofford ("Mysteries of Egypt", "Testaments", "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure", etc.) The cinemtographers are Gordon C. Lonsdale ("The Best Two Years") and T.C. Christensen ("Down and Derby"; "Texas: The Big Picture.") Utah JAZZ NBA owner Larry H. Miller is the principle investor in the production. Many of the actors are not LDS but have quite a bit of acting experience, including Brenda Strong (from ABC's hit show "Desperate Housewives") as the Steed matriarch and Jonathan Scarfe (who played Jesus in the ABC movie "Judas") as LDS Church founder Joseph Smith.
It was mostly shot in Vermont and Tennessee.
Reviews of the film were mixed, with positive comments about the cinematography and music, although reviewers have generally been disappointed with the script and acting. Reviewers have said that fans of the books will probably enjoy it, although most doubt whether it is good enough and accessible enough for nonmembers to be able to attract much of a crossover audience to help make back large-for-LDS-Cinema production investment. The highest acting accolades have been given to Jonathan Scarfe who reviewers say is really on the nose with his portrayal of Joseph Smith.
Nationally, 11 reviews of the film have been recorded at rottentomatoes.com, only one of which is rated as positive, giving the film a "freshness" rating of only 9%. (A freshness rating of 60% of better is considered good or rather "fresh" by the site's webmasters.)
RottenTomatoes.com summary page - http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/work_and_the_glory/
Here are the URLs to several reviews and articles about the film when it was released in Utah:
Jeff Vice (Deseret Morning News) - http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595107501,00.html Sean Means (Salt Lake Tribune) - http://www.sltrib.com/food/ci_2472243 Eric Snider (EricDSnider.com) - http://www.ericdsnider.com/view.php?mrkey=2286 SL Tribune article - http://www.sltrib.com/ci_2472368
Basic plot: Recently moved to upstate New York from the comfort of their Vermont homestead, the Benjamin Steed family makes their way into the established social structure of Palmyra. In their attempt to settle peacefully into the new community, they find that the help they have hired to clear their land (Joseph and Hyrum Smith) is at the center of a religious controversy -- a controversy that threatens to tear the family apart.
Two of the Steed brothers contend for the favor of a wealthy merchant's daughter, and they find themselves on opposite sides of the religious question. As the family struggles to smooth the contention, they find themselves twisted into deeper issues of family loyalty and the pursuit of truth.
The Work and the Glory is rated PG for some mild thematic elements and violence.
Screenit.com has not yet posted a content review for this film.
More information about the film can be found at: http://www.ldsfilm.com/WatG/WorkAndGlory.html
BOSTON GLBE REVIEW: "SAINTS AND SOLDIERS" IS A SALUTE TO CLASSIC WAR FILMS - See http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/articles/2005/04/29/saints_and_soldiers_salutes_the_war_film_legacy/
LDS COMEDIAN RELEASED NEW STAND-UP DVD - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600130881,00.html
THIS WEEK'S "LDS PSYCHO" EPISODE OF "COLD CASE" - This post contains potentially objectionable material, in a discussion of portrayals of LDS, Jewish and GLBT serial killers in entertainment media. You've been warned.
So here's the scoop on last night's "LDS psycho" of "Cold Case"...
One of LDSFilm.com's readers wrote to tell us:
Roy Brigham is described as a Utah Mormon. His aunt rescues him from acting in a scene during a showing of Rocky Horror. She chastises him for dancing in his "garmies." She tells him the voice he hears in his head is God, just like Joseph Smith and his namesake Brigham Young. He's convinced that the girl he's in love with is his Mary Magdalene and he must marry her. It was an uncomfortable scene for those of us who know what garments look like.
Tyler Bensinger wrote this episode of "Cold Case." I've never heard of him before, and I haven't the faintest idea what his deal is. Could simply be some guy who read Krakauer and doesn't get out much. IMDb.com lists him as a past writer for "Beverly Hills, 90210", "The Pretender", "Dragnet" and other "Cold Case" episodes.
See http://coldcase2.proboards21.com/index.cgi?board=episodes&action=display&num=1113834190 and http://www.coldcase.de/modules.php?name=Spoiler
So, anyway, the "Cold Case" episode is probably not cool from our perspective, but not unexpected. Increased frequency of media portrayals of Latter-day Saints necessarily brings both bad and good portrayals. The "serial killer" motif is widely used in popular media. It's done for entertainment, like musicals, guest appearances by pop singers, or women in bikinis.
Over the weekend I read a classic Dennis O'Neil issue of Batman which had story assist by none other than Harlan Ellison: The story featured a devoutly Jewish serial killer who was driven to his crimes out of a desire for vengeance against the Nazi concentration camp commander who killed his parents during the Holocaust. It, like the "Cold Case" episode, posits a person driven to murder by his religious background.
Of course, in real life Mormon serial killers are few and far between. But you can be assured that whenever they have cropped up, they've already become fodder for multiple movies, books and other forms of entertainment.
To further put things into perspective, one could always read what a gay writer said about gay serial killer movies - focusing on the complete absence of GLBT outrage over the Oscar-winning movie "Monster" (this except from the article is on a page listing over 45 real-life gay serial killers, if you want to read more detail and background):
RESPONSE TO LDS SERIAL KILLER EPISODE OF CBS SERIES "COLD CASE" - Regarding last night's "LDS serial killer" episode of "Cold Case"... some mailing list readers have responded...
Carolyn writes: Sounds like we need to fire off some letters to CBS.
Matt Floer writes:
I am extremely disapointed in this portrayal of latter-day-saints on "Cold Case." For them to do something like this is highly insensitive to our faith.
I plan on writing and complaining about this. The maker of the show, the station which allows it, whatever....
For non-LDS people to see temple garments in such a blatantly offensive manner, is seriously wrong. If you see something holy in an unholy light or presentation, what will be your impression of it? Probably something negative. To understand temple garments and temples, you should be worthy and experience it in the proper manner. At the temple, in the proper context. Not watch it on some lousy show with ulterior motives.
Here is a link where people can write CBS and complain about their tactless venture: http://www.cbs.com/primetime/cold_case/
The power of boycott or numerous complaints, is a strong one.
DISCUSSION: LDS SERIAL KILLER MOVIES, ETC. - Joe Puente writes:
The HBO mini-series "Angels in America," based on Tony Kushners award-winning play, also has depictions of temple garments. I remember watching it on HBO and thinking, "That's going to piss somebody off."
One element has the character of Joe explaining to the purpose of garments to the man he just had an affair with. "They're supposed to protect you," he says. Of course, when I saw this, I thought, "Yeah, that only works if you actually LIVE UP TO your covenants."
On the subject of Mormon Serial Killers and criminals...
I have a couple of questions.
I keep hearing one person or another say that Ted Bundy was a Mormon.. others say he was a return missionary, but as far as I can tell, this is all hearsay and isn't based on any documented evidence. No one can show me a baptismal or a priesthood ordanation certificate so I don't believe it. Bundy has been depicted in a number of made for TV dramas and I think if he was REALLY a Mormon, the writers of these dramas would probably have played up the Mormon angle. Is there anyone on the list who can confirm this?
Joseph L. Puente
[Webmaster: My understanding regarding Ted Bundy is that midway through his career as a nationwide serial killer he did indeed join the Church as an adult in order to have greater access to female LDS victims while he was in Utah, but he is not regarded as having been a serious or sincere convert. Puente actually makes a good point here about the fact that Bundy has NOT been portrayed as Mormon in various movies is telling... It's not the kind of thing TV writers would leave out if they thought it had any significance at all.]
TANA BETTER "APPRENTICE" THAN MICKEY (MOUSE THAT IS): IN FINAL 4: LAST OF 3 UTAHNS IN THE RUNNING - Of the 3 Utahns on this season's "Apprentice," Tana is the only one left now that the show is down to the final 4 competitors. Chris went home two weeks ago. From the behavior of Chris and Audrey it is clear that they are not practicing Latter-day Saints. Tana, on the other hand... I'm not sure. A couple weeks ago she said she doesn't drink coffee... She's incredbly nice. In fact, while I'm watching tonight's episode, Trump is discussing with his lieutenants whether or not Tana is simply too nice to work for him. Definitly could be a Mormon girl...
Nope. Trump just fired Alex instead of Tana... Alex is definitely more cutthroat, but Tana has a better record of winning.
Actually, Tana could win this whole thing, because the only two competitors left are completely clueless when it comes to leadership: Craig and Kendra. Actually, all of the strongest Trump-like people (or those that seem like him to me) have been eliminated now. Kendra and Craig are both terrible when it comes to leadership and communication, but they've won challenges because of their raw individual creativity. They've often had such effective creative ideas for the projects, they've ended up winning even though they weren't able to exhibit any capacity for delegation, leadership or management. Kendra's automobile brochure was used essentially as is by a major auto company... they put the thing into a multi-million dollar campaign, a brochure that she designed in 1 day. Craig's idea for The Box (essentially a toy chest) was used nationally by Home Depot. Of course, Tana is no slouch either... She was instrumental in designing the winning doohickey that Office Depot is selling nationally.
Tana is probably less of a raw creative personality and less of a designer than Kendra, but she's not bad in that department, and she's definitely more of a leader. So she definitely could win the whole thing... We'll see if the Utah girl takes the top prize soon...
3 BIG HOLLYWOOD MOVIES TO STAR LDS ACTOR JON HEDER (NAP. DYNAMITE) - See http://www.canmag.com/news/4/3/751
DESNEWS' CHRIS HICKS: I TOTALLY DON'T GET THIS NAPOLEON THING - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600129860,00.html
UTAH-FILMED NETWORK SERIES EVERWOOD TRYING TO MAKE NICE WITH SLC - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600130347,00.html
LDS CONVERT AUTHORS/SCREENWRITERS - I'm trying to fill in a few blanks on my page: "Authors Who Are Converts to a Different Religion"
I can probably write to most of these people or find some publications which help fill in the blanks, but do any of you readers of this mailing list know or have good references for what was the religious affiliation of the following Latter-days Saint convert authors/filmmakers:
Kathryn H. Kidd
K. L. Morgan
Peter Q. Warinner
This IS tied to film, not just literature...
Bro. Heimerdinger is working on his first movie now --- Summer of the Nephites. He was actually a film major in school, before being sidetracked into becoming one of today's most popular LDS novelists. Some of the films he worked on as a student are actually still sold commercially.
Sis. Perry, as everybody knows, was the character featured in Peter ("Lord of the Rings") Jackson's first big movie "Heavenly Creatures." And she's had one of her novels adapted as a TV movie ("Cater Street Hangman").
Dave Wolverton has written many Star Wars novels (incl. The Courtship of Princess Leia), and the feature film adaptation of his fantasy Runelords is now in pre-production for a big budget film to be shot in the Czech Republic.
Bro. McNulty is, as you all SHOULD know (but I bet some of you forgot), the Church member who made the Academy Award-nominated film "Waco: Rules of Engagement."
Kathryn H. Kidd is Bro. Orson Scott Card's Girl Friday, and a great writer in her own right. She writes for Meridian and co-wrote the awesome novel Lovelock.
Sis. Lee Martin (a great mystery novelist), Sis. Morgan (fantasy) and Bro. Warinner (science fiction)... Okay, not so much when it comes to film. But a film adaptation of Warinner's Sumdar would be awesome!
Don't write to me about Latter-day Saint filmmakers/writers Thom Duncan (former Evangelical), Richard Dutcher (former Pentecostal), David Doering (former Episcopalian), Linda Hoffman Kimball (former Methodist), Eliza R. Snow (former Disciples of Christ)... I've already got them.
For you latecomers, did you know that Richard Dutcher directed a movie about Eliza R. Snow (who was wife to both Brigham Young and Joseph Smith). It's already on video and DVD, and it's quite good. Have you seen it yet?
Thom Duncan is probably one of the greatest Latter-day Saint playwrights alive today. I'm sure you'll see some Duncan film adaptations someday.
"David Doering"... Don't worry if you've never heard of him. A few S.F. stories is all... "Snooze" was just okay, I thought. D. Michael Martindale liked it a lot more than I did.
ANOTHER CONVERT TO THE CHURCH, WHOSE MOVIE IS IN THEATERS NOW - Another convert to the Church has a movie in theaters right now: John R. Uibel.
Bro. Uibel is the Associate Director of Media Production at the Center for Instructional Design at BYU.
He is also one of the most sought-after production designers in Utah and in the world of LDS filmmaking. His movie "The Work and the Glory" is setting box office records in theaters as we speak.
Bro. Uibel wasn't mentioned in an earlier post about our list at http://www.adherents.com/lit/sf_conv.html (a list of authors/screenwriters only), but he's somebody to keep in mind next time you see a great set or striking colors in an epic LDS period piece or big budget Church film set during Book of Mormon times... Chances are that's his work on the screen.
LDS KIDNAP SUVIVOR ELIZABETH SMART LISTED ALONG W/JULIA ROBERTS: PEOPLE MAGAZINE 50 MOST BEAUTIFUL - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600130308,00.html
QUIZ: WHICH OF FILM HISTORY'S 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE WAS LDS? - A COMPLETELY OPTIONAL quiz just for fun: Which of film history's 100 most influential people were LDS?
[Hint: There's only ONE on the list that was LDS. Another hint: That person is DEAD now.]
The following list is from the book "The Film 100" (full title: "The Film 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential People in the History of the Movies"), written by Scott Wise, a Citadel Press Book, published by Carol Publishing Group: Secaucus, New Jersey (1998).
How many of the names do you recognize? (Anything less than 30, and you should probably go back to film school... More than 80, and you probably need to LEAVE film school!)
NO FAIR googling to find the answer. Just look at the list... If you want to google a name to refresh your memory about who it is, that's fine. Googling the name of the LDS person will NOT reveal to you that the person is LDS.
But when you want to know the answer, just google "LDS" and "Film 100", and you'll have your answer.
W. K. Laurie Dickson Edwin S. Porter Charlie Chaplin Mary Pickford Orson Welles Alfred Hitchcock Walt Disney D. W. Griffith Will Hays Thomas Edison John Wayne J. R. Bray Billy Bitzer Jesse Lasky George Eastman Sergei Eisenstein Andre Bazin Irving Thalberg Thomas Ince Marlon Brando Louis B. Mayer Greta Garbo Robert Flaherty Lon Chaney Anita Loos George Melies Adolph Zukor John Gilbert Max Fleischer John Ford William Fox George Lucas Linwood Gale Dunn Eadweard Muybridge Katherine Hepburn Winsor McCay Stanley Kubrick Buster Keaton James Agee Fritz Lang Marcus Loew Cedric Gibbons James Cagney Ben Hecht Ingmar Bergman Humphrey Bogart Leon Schlesinger Louella Parsons Roger Corman Edith Head Bernard Herrmann Gary Cooper Mike Todd Ernst Lubitsch Sidney Poitier Saul Bass Billy Wilder Bette Davis Erich von Stroheim Max Factor The Lumiere Brothers Woody Allen Clark Gable David O. Selznick Gregg Toland Lillian Gish William Cameron Menzies Lucille Ball Samuel Rothafel Akira Kurosawa Marilyn Monroe Vittorio De Sica Natalie Kalmus Siskel and Ebert Willis O'Brien Shirley Temple Yakima Canutt Sam Peckinpah Jackie Coogan Federico Fellini Leni Riefenstahl Steven Spielberg Sam Warner Jean-Luc Godard Robert De Niro Fred Astaire Francis Ford Coppola Ted Turner Clint Eastwood Dalton Trumbo Dennis Hopper Richard Hollingshead Melvin Van Peebles John Chambers Mack Sennett Martin Scorsese Karl Struss Busby Berkeley John Hubley John Cassavetes
TOM CRUISE AND KATIE HOLMES: COULD THEIR FILM CHARACTERS HAVE A TEMPLE WEDDING? - The entertainment news gossip mill is abuzz with the latest Hollywood couple: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Is it true that BOTH actors have played LDS characters? Would a temple wedding be possible for their on screen personas?
First of all, let me admit, I think it's a bit creepy, this Cruise/Holmes thing... Tom Cruise announcing that he's "dating" actress Katie Holmes... wonder how long that will last? But she's actually 27 years old, so even though she's 16 years younger than Cruise, it's not as creepy as it might look. Holmes usually plays characters younger than she really is. She's Bruce Wayne's girlfriend in the new "Batman Begins" movie... Certainly not a teen or even college role, an adult character.
Holmes is also co-starring with LDS actor Aaron Eckhart in the upcoming satirical anti-smoking comedy "Thank You for Smoking." LDS film fans will remember that she played Sister Hannah Green, a talented Latter-day Saint writing student from Provo, Utah in the movie "Wonder Boys." In that movie she had a crush on he teacher (played by Michael Douglas, who is 34 years older than her in real life, so this Cruise thing doesn't look so bad in comparison. Of course, in "Wonder Boys" Michael Douglas's character had the good sense not to let Hannah's infatuation amount to anything. There's a nice bit in "Wonder Boys" in which Sis. Green (Holmes) gives Michael Douglas some much-needed advice about keeping the Word of Wisdom.
As for Tom Cruise, he has not played an overtly LDS character on film, although he has starred in a number of movies made by LDS film producer Jerry Molen, most recently "Minority Report." Bro. Molen's biggest role as an ACTOR was opposite Tom Cruise as well: Bro. Molen had the 4th-billed role in "Rain Man," playing the part of Dr. Bruner -- the psychiastrist who evaluated Cruise's brother "Raymond Babbitt" (Dustin Hoffman). I guess, technically, speaking, Cruise's character in "Rain Man" can be claimed more as a Latter-day Saint than any other religious affiliation. In "Rain Man," Cruise plays the biological brother of Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant. Babbitt's character, as everybody knows, was based on real-life Latter-day Saint autistic savant Kim Peek. Peeks' parents are LDS, so his siblings would also be. But the thing is, although Hoffman's character Raymond - along with his amazing savant abilities - were based on Peeks, the plot of the story and Cruise's character were fictional. So I don't officially go so far as to say that Cruise's character in "Rain Man" was based on a Latter-day Saint. But he certainly wasn't anything else, either.
As for the temple wedding between Cruise's "Charlie Babbitt" and Holmes' "Hannah Green"... Charlie - if he was LDS - would be in need of a bit of repentance. I don't think gambling in Las Vegas is a sin because he had Raymond on his side: it wasn't really gambling (just cheating, hmm... might still be a problem, although there's no specific proscription against card counting in the Church, as far as I know). But Charlie's relationship with girlfriend Susanna (Valeria Golino) had some pre-marital things going on that threw poor Raymond's mind into panic when he accidentally walked in on them.
In real life, neither actor is LDS. Is marriage a possibility? Katie Holmes has said that she plans to remain a virgin until she's married, certainly a refreshing surprise from a Hollywood actress. Nevertheless, I can't see Cruise taking the marriage plunge again so soon... Is Katie Holmes even a Scientologist? Not that I know of. It seems that Mr. Cruise may be dating outside his faith. Even marriage to fellow church member Nicole Kidman didn't last; interfaith marriages are even MORE likely to fail.
See http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/7242_1342881,00180016.htm, http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600130336,00.html and http://www.ldsfilm.com/movies/WonderBoys.html
PRES. BUSH SIGNS INTO LAW BILL THAT PROTECTS LEGALITY OF LDS FILM FILTERING TECH - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600129681,00.html
DESERET NEWS EDITORIAL: FILM FILTERS ARE A NEEDED STEP - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600129908,00.html
OSCAR-WINNING LDS FILM PRODUCER MOLEN SOUNDS OFF ON LDS FILM EDITING BIZ - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600130281,00.html
OFF TOPIC: FORMER ANGLICAN'S MOVIE: HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY - "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the big sreen adaptation of Douglas Adams' best-selling cult status novel, will certainly be the top-grossing movie of the weekend.
I saw it, and quite enjoyed it. I'm a fan of the original novel and the whole "Trilogy." Very funny stuff, the books. Funnier than the movie.
The movie isn't GREAT CINEMA, per se, but I think it has a lot for both fans of the book and for people coming to the material fresh.
The subplot about Humma Kavula - the religious leader played by John Malkovich isn't really a major part of the film, but Malkovich was pretty good in his role. The leader of the religion that believes the universe was sneezed out of a giant nose is not really villainous or played as somebody crazy -- just a rival to Zaphod Beeblebrox, who lost to Zaphod in the last election for President of the Galaxy.
The religious leader played by Malkovich offers to exchange the location of the mythical planet of Magrathea for a gun that was created by Deep Thought. I thought this might turn out to be some kind of super-weapon. Actually, it is a Point of View Gun, and the only thing it does is cause anybody you shoot to see things from the point of view of the person who shoots it. Trillian explains that the gun will have no effect on her, because she's already a woman. (I.e., women are already sufficiently empathic, and sufficiently good listeners, that they already can see things from other people's point of view.)
The movie presents some of the book's funny bits about God, and it also shows how the Earth was created by when you might call "Intelligent Design." In fact, the Earth was built by an ancient civilization to be a computer. These beings are from another dimension, but manifest themselves on Earth as small white lab mice, and subtly manipulate humankind in order to perform the Earth-computer's calculations. The creation of the Earth is shown in considerable detail: Individual people are shown working on various parts of the planet. So one could certainly make an interesting comparison to this and the belief that pre-mortal spirits helped in the creation of the Earth.
Not to get too heavy or theological, or anything. Keep in mind that Douglas Adams was a self-described "radical" Atheist. He used the word "radical" to emphasize that by "atheist" he does not mean agnostic, and he really has thought about the matter. It is widely known that Adams was an atheist. What is less well known is that Adams was a devout Anglican until the age of 18.
Douglas Adams: Douglas Adams was a devout Anglican until the age of 18. When he was born in 1952 his father was a postgraduate theology student at Ridley Hall, the Anglican Theological Training College in Cambridge, England. Later his father quit his studies for the Anglican priesthood and worked as a teacher of theology. [Source: "Douglas Adams Biography"; URL: http://www.douglasadams.se/biography] Adams discussed his religious beliefs with interviewer David Silverman ("Life, the Universe, and Everything: An Interview with Douglas Adams" in The American Atheist Volume, Volume 37 No. 1; URL: http://www.americanatheist.org/win98-99/T2/silverman.html):
"As a teenager I was a committed Christian. It was in my background. I used to work for the school chapel in fact. Then one day when I was about eighteen I was walking down the street when I heard a street evangelist and, dutifully, stopped to listen. As I listened it began to be borne in on me that he was talking complete nonsense, and that I had better have a bit of a think about it... So I became an Agnostic. And I thought and thought and thought. But I just did not have enough to go on, so I didn't really come to any resolution. I was extremely doubtful about the idea of god, but I just didn't know enough about anything to have a good working model of any other explanation for, well, life, the universe and everything to put in its place. But I kept at it, and I kept reading and I kept thinking. Sometime around my early thirties I stumbled upon evolutionary biology... making the move from Agnosticism to Atheism takes, I think, much more commitment to intellectual effort than most people are ready to put in... I am fascinated by religion... It has had such an incalculably huge effect on human affairs. What is it? What does it represent? Why have we invented it? How does it keep going? What will become of it? I love to keep poking and prodding at it. I've thought about it so much over the years that that fascination is bound to spill over into my writing."
There are a number of Anglicans who were prominent science fiction/fantasy writers, who were NOT atheists, but were in fact committed Anglicans during their writing career:
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Philip K. Dick (yes, he was a churchgoing Episcopalian)
Also, John Milton (who wrote the influential Christian novel and proto-sf/f novel "Paradise Lost") was an Anglican, but he converted to Congregationalism.
Anglicanism in England is pretty tiny today, practiced by fewer people there than Islam. But because it was the state church during much of the time that England was an intellectual capital of the world, many influential writers were Anglicans.
When I think about great writers like Swift, Dickens, C.S. Lewis, James Blish, etc., (plus so many more in genres OTHER than science fiction/fantasy), I think, wow, that's a great literary heritage. From a strictly financial and legal perspective, the LDS Church today could probably buy the Church of England wholesale. But all we would gain would be empty buildings with nice architecture. Intellectually and artistically, it wouldn't be honest to say that these writers belonged to our Church, even if we bought them out and even if authors like Dickens and Lewis would have rather been Latter-day Saints than be a part of the Church of England the way it is today.
WHAT DOUG ADAMS ("HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO GALAXY") WROTE ABOUT LATTER-DAY SAINTS - The feature film adaptation of Douglas Adams "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" hits theaters nationwide today. The movie adapts one of the most popular science fiction novels in history, and probably the most influential, seminal work in the sub-genre of humourous s.f. Adams was an atheist, but he had a great sense of humor. I have indexed all of his published fiction. Unfortunately he did not write much about Latter-day Saints. (Or maybe I should say "fortunately"... Had he written more it probably would not have been accurate, although I imagine it would have been funny).
Below: What Adams wrote about Latter-day Saints in one of his novels.
Source: Adams, Douglas. Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency. New York: Simon and Schuster (1987), page 3:
The Electric Monk was a labor-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe. Unfortunately, this Electric Monk had developed a fault, and had started to believe all kinds of things, more or less at random. It was even beginning to believe things they'd have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City. It had never heard of Salt Lake City, of course. Nor had it ever heard of a quingigillion, which was roughly the number of miles between this valley and the Great Salt Lake of Utah.
Does the book "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" have any references to Latter-day Saints? Well... "Hitchhiker's Guide" DOES mention the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," the video version of which stars none other than fab Latter-day Saint superstar Donny Osmond in the title role as the Old Testament's Joseph.
That doesn't quite count, though. When Adams wrote "Hitchhiker's" I'm certain he never envisioned that Donny would come to won that role.
In the MOVIE version of "Hitchhiker's," a major character has been ADDED (not in the book) who is a religious leader - played by John Malkovich (a character probably modeled after Benny Hinn, Fred Phelps, John Shelby Spong or something - I don't know).